A Message from Owner and President, Shuaib Ahmed
First, on behalf of team ASA, we would like to thank our clients both in Illinois and California for their continued trust and partnership with our firm. We are truly humbled to have the continued privilege of aggressively defending our clients to secure an amiable, but fair, case resolution.
As a firm, we use the end quarter to assess our production in the last quarter and set goals for the next. As such, in Q2, I am happy to report that team ASA in Illinois closed 162 total cases, with a case closure rate of 7.2 months per case. Team ASA in California case closure rate came in at 12.4 months per case. In other words, from the time the case was initially referred to our office until it was closed by way of an approved settlement contract and/or hearing. This is encouraging in light of the many challenges to the industry due to the pandemic, including constant changes at the Commission/Board, Arbitrator reassignments, changing procedures, limited hearings being set, etc. This is a testament to team ASA’s creative, forward thinking on continuing to expedite closures despite those challenges.
While Q2 was productive, we are certainly not satisfied. We have a half a year left, the journey is long, the climb is steep. While we acknowledge and appreciate the challenges that come during this time of the year, we are committed in continuing our tireless efforts in securing favorable results for our clients and constantly adjusting our strategies based upon the changing industry conditions. We look forward to Q3 and are excited to bring even better results! 

ASA Law Group's Quarterly Intention
Author: Jordan Ann Lejcar

Well, here we are. It’s mid-July and past the half-way mark of the year. In our business, heck, in many businesses and personal lives, this is when people get tired (from what they have already accomplished) and get nervous (for all the things they still have yet to accomplish). Before we know it, kids will be back in school and the fall holidays will fly right into winter holidays … and we’ll be facing 2022. So, how do we get out of that “mid-year rut?” How do we motivate ourselves when we are stuck in the middle of our efforts? When the starting post is too far to turn around, but the end goal can’t quite be seen?

Early in your pursuit . . . look backwards at what you achieved; toward the end, look forward.
Miguell Brendl, Professor of Marketing; University of Basal, Switzerland
Now is an excellent time to stop, for just a second, and reflect. Let’s not look at this as a “mid-year rut” or a “half-way point.” Rather, let’s look back at the first six months of 2021 - at our successes - at how far we have come. Then, let’s look forward to what we have left to accomplish and the satisfaction we will feel when we get there. Keep in mind, our successes are defined by the progress we have made to date along with the checking off of the ultimate item on that long list of goals! 

ASA Gives Back to the Communities We Live In and Work With
Author: Jordan Ann Lejcar
Did you know that “giving back” is not only good for society, but is chock-full of mental health benefits? Volunteering, donating time/funds can be spiritually fulfilling, provide emotional purpose, be mentally stimulating and help you uncover passions and interests you otherwise would have missed out on.
In Q2, ASA continued their monthly commitments to:
· Chicago Food Pantry – continued commitment to 750 meals per month;
· Illinois Million Mask Mayday – funding the creation of masks for Illinois distribution.
Individually our attorneys and staff have made:
· Monthly monetary donations to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
· Clothing donations to local children.
· Communities that Care backpack drive.
And remember, giving back is as easy as clicking a button! Amazon Smile allows its subscribers to choose any charity to receive .5% of the shipping total on any order. Why not?
· Sign up at Amazon Smile (click link: http://ow.ly/mSE150CrsIm),
· Select charity of your choice (If you don’t have one, try Kids’ Chance of Illinois or Peace for Pits out of Villa Park, Illinois),
· Shop.
#MoreThanLawyers #PeopleFirst!

Recent Trial Decision Proves that Initial Impressions (and Reporting) Last!
Author: Katlyn Brasel
Seasoned Attorney Rory McCann recently secured a favorable trial decision, awarding $0.00, after finding that Petitioner failed to establish an injury that was causally related. McCann represented a distribution company that faced an alleged injury from a tenured employee who would eventually undergo multiple back surgeries, psychiatric care, and a recommendation for a spinal cord stimulator. Petitioner’s medical care concluded with permanent restrictions and a vocational opinion that he would be able to work in positions earning substantially less than his prior wages. As such, the overall exposure on the claim had exploded to over $1.4 million dollars. With such heights of exposure, the crux of the case would rest in the timeline of reporting and the critical contents of the initial medical.
Petitioner was a manual laborer who claimed to have suffered a low back injury when replacing a juice machine while at a nursing home on May 30, 2018. Notably, Petitioner did not report this injury despite several opportunities/communications with Respondent, until almost two months later on July 25, 2018. For just shy of two months, Petitioner treated at length with his primary care physician, including diagnostic studies and spinal injections. And, during that care, he failed to report the alleged May 30 incident. In the decision, the Arbitrator heavily weighed the fact that Petitioner’s initial care did not detail a work-related incident and, furthermore, failed to report an injury or mechanism to his employer let alone any health provider. It was recognized that Petitioner’s initial report of injury was only timely relayed after the failure of conservative treatment and surgical intervention was discussed.
In the trial decision, the Arbitrator appreciated that Petitioner was able to finish the rest of his shift on the alleged date of injury, and more so, work the following days without issue or report. The Arbitrator noted that Petitioner’s testimony highlighted minor inconsistencies in the history of the injury coupled with conflicting onset dates in the medical reports. Petitioner testified that he never had substantial prior back issues. In the end, and despite Petitioner’s sympathetic testimony and permanent restrictions, his case was not enough to overcome the glaring credibility concerns that were associated with his delay of reporting and inconsistent history.
McCann stood strongly in the Respondent’s defenses which paid off with a rare but befitting $0.00 Trial Award, recognizing Petitioner’s failure to establish a causally related injury. A great outcome and confirmation of what we all know to be true, initial impressions (and reports) last!

Updated Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission Procedures
Author: Adan Ramirez

The Commision has officially settled into its new spaces - one for staff offices and another for in-person hearings. All Chicago in-person hearings will now be held at the Richard Daley Center, 50 W Washington, Lower Level 17, Chicago, IL 60602.

Through July, and until the Commission updates, arbitrators will continue to conduct their monthly status calls virtually via the Webex program. If a motion is filed, the arbitrators may continue to set matters for pre-trial conferences on the “pre-trial designated” dates designated by the IWCC. These pre-trials will continue to be held virtually via Webex, unless otherwise ordered by the sitting arbitrator.

After a matter has been heard in a pre-trial conference, and subject to the sitting arbitrator’s discretion, the parties motion for a trial date. Trials will be set for the month following the status call. (i.e., cases on the July Call will receive a trial date in August, and so forth.) Of note:

● Each arbitrator may set a maximum of fifteen (15) cases per trial date. Preference will likely be given to 19(b)/8(a) cases and prima facie PTD cases above any nature/extent trials.

● For down-state venues, these trials will be set in the original jurisdiction (i.e. Joliet cases set for trial will be heard the following month in Joliet).

As we know, the IWCC has made a significant push to paperless. However, exhibits for trials will still need to be brought in hard-copy form. After the decisions are written, and only if an appeal is sought, will the court reporters scan those exhibits into CompFile. Regardless of an appeal, the hard copies will be forwarded to Chicago for safe-keeping.

Approval of Pro Se settlement contracts will now have the option to be conducted virtually or in-person. Each sitting arbitrator will set in-person settlement hearings based on their own schedule upon receiving a request.

Overall, ASA is seeing most arbitrators calendars/dockets opening up to the newer cases’ filing/motions.

Author: Alexa Venditti

Our Director of Operations, Beth, has three dogs, but little Scarlett is her most senior companion! Scarlett is a 12-year-old Boxer/ Beagle mix. She came into Beth’s life all the way back in 2010 when Beth was a junior in college at Illinois State University, and it was love at first sight! After becoming Beth’s, Scarlett has been all over the state, first living in a college apartment at ISU, followed by a stint in The Windy City, and, now, settled in the Chicago suburbs. With each new change, Scarlett has been Beth’s special and most loyal companion.
Another change came with Beth’s engagement to her fiance, Bryan, last year! Not only was there a new important person in Scarlett’s life, but she gained two new puppy sisters - Rosie and Desi. However, even being the oldest of the three, Scarlett has not missed a beat! She has regained her puppy disposition from playing all day with her sisters. These days, she is gearing up for her humans to get married later this year and to continue being the voice of reason amongst her puppy crew! No one snuggles and cuddles like Scarlett, and she’ll be doing just that for years to come. 

December 15, 2008
30 pounds
Sleeping, sunbathing in the grass, playing with her puppy sisters, cuddling
Fire alarms, airhorns (really, any loud noise), being alone, hardwood floors
Fave Foods:              
Popcorn, cheese, eggs
Fave Toy:                  
Antler bone (for carrying ONLY, no chewing!)
Fave Spot:                 
Curled up by someone’s legs
Loving, loyal, Neurotic
Fave People:             
Beth, Bryan, Nana and Papa

ASA's Book Club Q2 Read: Winning by Tim S. Grover
Author: Talin Maghakian

This quarter’s read presented as an unapologetic and no excuses made, template to greatness as envisioned by Tim S. Grover. Not so ironically, it was a very welcome and much needed dive into the facets of “winning” right at a time when the mid-year slump begins to feel like it is taking its hold on many of us and the proverbial splash (bucket) of water in the face becomes necessary.  

Grover’s ideas are definitely not for the faint-hearted, i.e., there is no room for sharing or compromise when you have set a goal for yourself. These goals are not necessarily professional in nature, but personal as well. Grover frames his ideas in thirteen distinct definitions as to what constitutes the idea of “winning.” Among them are “WINNING isn’t heartless, but you’ll use your heart less, WINNING is selfish, and WINNING wants all of you, there is no balance.”  

Framed against a most timely backdrop of the basketball career of the late Kobe Bryant, as well as the events of the pandemic which unfolded over the last year, “Winning” takes us back to our primordial states, one in which the eye is on the prize, the chase is relentless, and the rewards are bountiful.  

Introducing Our Newest Team Member: John Harp
Author: Jennifer Maxwell

ASA is excited to announce the addition of Attorney John Harp to our team! John hails from Portland, Oregon, but is a graduate of DePaul University (1999) and the John Marshall Law School (2012). 
Prior to being admitted to the Illinois bar, John worked as a multi-jurisdictional workers’ compensation claims adjuster for twelve years. After completing law school, John joined a workers’ compensation petitioner’s firm and represented injured workers for eight years. He is a member of both the Kane County and Illinois State Bar Associations.
However, John’s first courtroom experience dates to watching his father work as a prosecutor. John says, “I learned a lot by observing my father’s career as a lawyer, but the best piece of advice he ever gave me was to ‘always be prepared to take a case to trial and go to the mat for your client. An attorney who is afraid to try a case has already lost.’”
In order to help our readers get to know John, I asked him to describe himself in three words, and his response was: “tireless, visionary, and methodical.” As one of his new teammates, I’d like to add that John is also collaborative in nature and has a great sense of humor - both of which are great attributes to have in a fellow teammate. In the two months since John joined the ASA team, he has already made a positive impact for our clients and his in-depth understanding of the workers’ compensation insurance process from both sides will continue to be a valuable asset in obtaining the best possible outcome on cases. 
When John isn’t advocating for his clients at ASA, he enjoys traveling, playing many different styles of music (he worked in Alaska and the Caribbean as a professional trombonist!), and spending time with his wife and twin daughters. 
Please join me in welcoming John! 

Introducing Our Newest Team Member: Karla Rodriguez
Author: Alexa Venditti

ASA would also like to highlight the arrival of Karla Rodriguez to our Chicago Attorney Team! Karla earned her law degree and Certificate of Labor & Employment Law from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Before joining us at ASA, Karla’s legal career has consisted of defending an array of companies in the spaces of national transportation, retail, private corporations as well as airline corporations. However, as privy to both the Respondent and Petitioner sides of workers’ compensation law, Karla has invaluable experience coming in as an attorney with ASA.
Karla can be described with three “A’s”: adventurous, analytical, and affectionate. These descriptors make her an amazing team member, which has been evident already in her short tenure at ASA! Karla came into the firm ready to learn, self-start, and provide her insight as a resource to others, which are all great hallmarks of a good teammate.
Outside of the office, Karla is a woman of many interests! In recent years, she has become an avid professional football fan. She finds Tom Brady’s work ethic on the football field to be especially admirable (join the club!). She also really enjoys cycling. A testament to her love for cycling is a trip she once made riding 100 miles in Long Island, NY!
Apart from joining ASA and continuing in her legal career with us, Karla is also beginning a new adventure in her personal life: marriage! She is due to tie the knot on July 31st of this year and we could not be happier for her. We wish her all the luck and happiness!
Welcome to the team, Karla! 

Introducing our Newest Team Lead: Jordan Lejcar
Author: Alexa Venditti

ASA is proud to announce that, during Q2, Jordan Lejcar was appointed as our second Team Lead in our Chicago office! In her new role, and in addition to expertly managing her own case load, Jordan will be working with her team of attorneys to provide guidance, mentorship, and collaboration in the handling of their files. Jordan’s flair and talent in her own legal career will be an invaluable asset as she helps to develop and foster learning amongst her team members.
We are so excited to have Jordan in this new Team Lead role and cannot wait to see how she and her teammates flourish under her leadership!

Stay Connected and Updated with ASA Law Group
You can follow ASA Law Group on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (links below).
Please see our website, asalawgroup.net, for past newsletters and press releases. Also, if you would like for us to present on any WC topic for your team, please feel free to reach out to President and Owner, Shuaib Ahmed, directly at sahmed@asalawgroup.net.